One of Whitlam Group’s many specialties is variable data printing, but what exactly is variable data printing?  Variable data printing, which is also known as Variable Information Printing and by the acronyms VDP, VIP or simply VI, is a form of on-demand digital printing which allows elements such as graphics, images, text or barcodes to be printed with information from a file or database without stopping or slowing down the printing process.
In plain English, if you have a series of labels, coupons or personalized letters that each have the same basic layout, but need to be printed with different data on each, variable data printing is what you’re looking for.
Variable data printing is mainly used for invoicing, postcard campaigns, labels and direct marketing pieces and there are several different types of variable data that can be incorporated into your product.  Some types of variable data printing that we complete are things such as barcodes, consecutive numbering, variable imaging and Quick Response Codes, or QR codes for short.
Besides the benefit to direct marketers or billing companies, variable data printing has many other applications such as counterfeit deterrence for products, evidence tracking for law enforcement, part authenticity checking for manufacturers, prevention of document tampering or duplication and many others.

Barcode Printing

The type of variable information printing that you are probably most familiar with is the barcode.  Barcodes are a method of identifying the product category and manufacturer of a particular product.  But what you probably didn’t know is that barcodes come in many other formats than just the standard UPC code you normally see.  Some of these include Code 128, Code 39, Interleaved 2 of 5 and various 2d barcodes.  Most commonly, you will find barcodes on retail products for tracking and inventory control, but they also have several other applications in the manufacturing and industrial arenas.

Consecutive Number Printing

Another type of variable data printing that you may be familiar with is consecutive numbering printing.  This is commonly seen on labels to identify a product in a unique way.  These can be used to sequentially identify parts or to track things such as the date of manufacture, engineering revisions or provide other information regarding a product.
This type of variable information printing is often used for serial numbers by automotive manufacturers or as labels for lot numbers by food or beverage companies.

Variable Imaging

Variable imaging or variable image printing is for when your print job requires personalization of each piece.  This type of printing allows for the customization of people’s names, addresses, sweepstakes numbers, etc and allows that information to change with every single copy that’s run.
Variable image printing is often used for direct marketing companies for postcards and specialized coupons or by a warehouse to track distribution and shipping of their product.

QR Codes

Quick Response Codes, or QR Codes, are a two-dimensional matrix which can be scanned by most modern smart phones.  Besides being mobile-friendly, QR codes have the unique ability to contain hundreds of times more information than a standard barcode.
While most QR codes that you’ve seen are used to direct people to a web page or a company’s Facebook account, the potential uses for QR codes are almost limitless.  For example, an auto manufacturer could place a unique QR code on each vehicle that is produced and then use that QR code to track maintenance, warranty information, sales history, parts, recalls and much more.  The consumer could then scan these QR codes to view their vehicle history.
Regardless of what kind of variable data printing you need, Whitlam Group is able to help walk you through the process and explain all the options available to you.  We’ve been helping companies come up with unique solutions to their printing problems since 1957 and would love to help you learn more about variable data printing and how it can help your organization.  Call us toll-free at 1-800-755-2235 to discuss how we can help!